PHOTO CREDIT: Kelli Anne
THE boys of Ponytails have been telling me…
about their new song, Cherry Pie, and filming its video. I ask about the song’s origins and how they will follow it up; which artists are important to them; the new breed we should be keeping an eye out for – they reveal tour dates and where we can catch them play.
I was eager to discover how the band came together; whether they get chance to relax away from music; if they each have an album that is particularly special to them – the guys each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
We're good, thanks! Our last couple of weeks have been pretty busy! We played a little show at Patagonia Vancouver on Thursday; we played Vancouver Mural Festival on Saturday and immediately after went to the Little Red Sounds studio with our good friend Felix (Fung) for a few days to finish up some music! We all work full-time jobs and just added a new member to our band, so we've been practising a lot for our upcoming release party. We just released a music video and two songs, so it’s been an exciting week!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are Ponytails from Vancouver, BC. We are Harvey (Vocals), Liam (Bass); Graham (Drums), Travis (Guitar) and Jasper (Guitar, Vox and Keys).
Cherry Pie is your latest song. Can you explain how the song started and what it is about?
We started this band about two years ago and our debut E.P. was essentially the first six songs we ever wrote. We were just learning to write and the curve was challenging at times but it helped us to grow. Cherry Pie went through a few changes before becoming what it is now. It originally was a lot slower and had a 1950s Doo-Wop vibe. Harvey is very direct with his lyrics: he writes what he feels in the moment; it's very concise. With Cherry Pie, he wrote it for his girlfriend, Michelle; although, at the time, they weren’t in a relationship. She’s a very independent woman and taught Harvey a lot about patience and wasn’t going to jump into a relationship quickly.
The song is about loving someone without expectation and allowing them to be whomever they want even if it doesn’t completely satisfy you. I know that it's not a new theme for a bunch of guys to write about their girlfriends – like, "I've heard that before?" But I feel, if you saw them together either at the show or even their personal life, you'd realize it's honestly a perfect song for their crazy love.
What was it like making the video for it? Was it a lot of fun?!
We made it with our talented friend Lester who has made all of our friends in Peach Pit’s videos - and they actually helped out too. We had a pretty small budget so they acted as Lester's assistants to help make things less expensive which was great. Plus, we just love hanging out with them; they’re great guys. It was essentially the Peach Pit guys; Lester and our band hanging out for two days and filming. Each take we were trying to get Lester and the boys to laugh and commit to the role.
There's a lot of hilarious extra footage that will hopefully make it out there one day. We could do a live recording and add it. The live version is like seven minutes I think? It's a great feeling that we were able to make something that we love with our good friends! That's the best part of this, isn't it? We genuinely love the people we work with! From the jam space to the show; to the studio, to the shoot we have been having a party.
Might we see more material next year? Are you working on more stuff?
Yes! We decided to spread out the six tracks we recorded over a few months and release two at a time, one or two videos (depending on how each goes) and then we're taking November and December off of playing shows and ironing out all of the songs we've written - and recording a full-length album to be released probably this time next year. We've taken a lot of time into writing the new songs and I think people are going to be stoked on what we're making together!
How did Ponytails come together? When did you all meet?
Pretty much, we're all branches of Harvey's friend group…we've had a few people join afterwards but myself, (Travis) Liam and Harvey have been there from day one; Graham joined before we went to the studio to record Cherry Pie, Twilight Heat and a few other tracks. His first show with us was in September when we opened for Widowspeak at The Biltmore.
Jasper joined the band in July when Ponytails and his band (Jasper Sloan Yip) played a music festival together and had a heart to heart at an after-party. His first show with was at our release party at the Fox Cabaret on 24th of this month. It was a magical night!
Which artists are you all inspired by? Did you grow up around a lot of different sounds?
We love everything!
Between the band, though, everyone has different stylistic flavours that pop out when we're writing and arranging. We have trouble breaking down what genre we belong to as we have pretty diverse tastes. It's such a great question that, at the same time, would take forever to answer...
Do you think there will be touring dates? Can we catch you play?
We are going on the last leg of the Peach Pits American tour. We will be in Seattle (October 27th), Portland (October 30th); San Francisco (November 1st) and Los Angeles (November 2nd)…and select Vancouver dates as well. We will be touring more in the future to promote our future releases.
If you each had to select an album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Travis: On the Beach by Neil Young
It's so beautifully disorganized. Off-pitch harmonies, live band; bad notes, raw honesty and emotion...the second solo in Vampire Blues is literally one note and it's so amazing! I can't explain it; it brings me to tears.
Harvey: Beach House - Teen Dream or Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Both albums came to me at a sentimental time in my life and when I heard them for the first time it was unlike any music I had experienced before. I feel like both are groundbreaking for the genre and just beautiful to listen to.
Graham: Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Liam: It’s so hard to select the one album that means the most to be because there are so many records that have impacted me but there is one that stands out because it was the first record I ever fell in love with and obsessively listened to. That record is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. When I was six, myself and my two best friends would always end up at my place and gravitate to my brother’s record collection.
We would put on that album, grab tennis rackets or anything else that we could pretend was a guitar. We would then stand on the couch and air-guitar the whole album. I think, at that age, the reason that album first stood out from all the records in my older brother’s collection out was the album art. It was so bright and fanciful and engaged my young imagination. After listening to the record I felt the same way about the songs on the album. I knew all the words and still do. The album in its entirety is where is magic is for me.
Jasper: One of my favourite albums of all time is Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It had a huge influence on the way I write, record and listen to music. I love everything about that album and could talk about it forever. Perhaps what makes it really special to me is that it still reveals new sides of itself every time I go back to it; even after, literally, hundreds of listens.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Maybe not a favourite for Harvey, but this one time we were playing a show and Harvey leapt up on stage from the crowd to start the first song and the crotch of his pants exploded. He wasn’t wearing any underwear and the band didn’t stop playing so he had to finish the set as it was and make sure not to expose himself to the audience. You could tell that he was unsuccessful as I could see some people taking photos…to date, I've never seen any.
As the band is hair-named; which members, facial or head-wise, has the best hair?!
Graham has the best hair; Harvey has the best beard.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
The Grateful Dead.
The rider would be your own bed to sleep in every night of the tour.
What advice would you give to artists coming through?
Play what you like not what's popular.
IN THIS PHOTO: Frankiie/PHOTO CREDIT: @ldzbar
Quick non-Vancouver shout-out:
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Music is actually all of our outlets. It is the most amazing thing in the world to play songs you love to people who love what you play. Harvey is a dedicated rock climber. He leaves the city and does it every opportunity he has. It’s a little obsessive in my opinion but I’ve seen the positive influence it’s had on his life. It’s a huge outlet for him.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Travis: Layten Kramer - The Void
Graham: D'Angelo - Feel Like Makin' Love
Harvey: George McCrae - Rock Your Baby
Liam: The Beatles - Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Jasper: Wilco – Jesus, etc.